Daily Israel Report

Religion of Sacrilege: Muslims Keep Smashing Graves in J'lem

More than a dozen graves at Mount of Olives desecrated in what has become a routine of sick vandalism.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/23/2011, 7:13 PM / Last Update: 6/23/2011, 7:25 PM

Flash 90

More than a dozen graves at Mount of Olives were desecrated at the Mount of Olives in the last fortnight in what has become a routine of sick vandalism.

JTA reported that on June 14, some 14 graves were damaged by Arab youths wielding sledgehammers, according to private security guards stationed at the cemetery. The report does not say why the guards were unable to prevent the desecration.
 
At least five of the damaged gravesites are those of Americans buried in the cemetery, according to Rabbi Moshe Bezalel Buzokovsky of the Chevra Kadisha.
 
The most recent damage is in addition to vandalism carried out at the cemetery last month on “Nakba Day.” On that day, Arabs hurled large rocks and boulders at the graves, damaging at least 15 of them.
 
Muslims also vandalized or destroyed nearly 40 newly installed surveillance cameras in the cemetery, according to the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives), founded in 2010.
 
Local Arabs also recently began illegally expanding a mosque near the grave of Menachem Begin, according to the committee.
 
The sacrilegious Muslim tradition of grave vandalization at Har HaZeitim goes back at least to the 1950s and 60s, when the cemetery was occupied by Jordan. Jordan systematically desecrated graves at the cemetery and used the stones for construction. The acts of vandalism in the past few years – as well as physical attacks on Jews - are well documented, year in and year out, but Israel does not seem to have a solution for the problem. 
 
U.S. Jewish leaders toured the cemetery in February along with Minister Yuli Edelstein following the ongoing Muslim desecrations. 
 
In the last year, efforts by the ICPHZ have resulted in the restoration of 2,000 graves, out of an estimated 40,000 graves that were destroyed prior to 1967 under Jordanian rule. There is also an increased private security presence, 50 surveillance cameras were installed, as was fluorescent lighting. The most recent vandalism shows that the Arabs are not overly impressed by the security cameras, most of which were damaged. 
 
There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, where Jews have been buried since Biblical times.